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Not long after building Pineapple Hill, my beach house in a cow pasture in rural South Carolina, I set up posts and cables for a small vineyard then planted several different types of grapevine to see which would fo best with the least amount of effort on my part.

Darwin got involved in narrowing down to Catawba grapes. The other varietals were either eaten up by deer, overcome with Pierce’s disease, or destroyed by weed wacker and lawn tractor errors.

More Catawbas were planted but still Darwin persisted in testing those vines. A bad car wreck knocked me out of commission for a few years during which the vines were left on their own. Not long after I was getting back on my feet and out in the vineyard, a second medical emergency caused me to abandon them again.

This year, however, I’ve been back at the cables—enjoying my time among the vines. The Catawbas are coming along nicely. This type grape grows more like berries than bunches and, in addition, a few Niagra vines have produced handsome bunches.

The Niagras will ripen ahead of the Catawbas. I freeze that juice to be added later when making Catawba wine.

I keep an easygoing life out here. Not at all like my life before.